The Differences Between the United Sates and Switzerland

Charlotte Wossner, Switzerland

Since my first day here, I saw a lot of differences between the United States and where I live in Switzerland. I love both countries, but there is a lot of diversity.

First of all, the language. In Switzerland, we have four official languages : German, French, Italian and Romansch, but most of the people speak German or French.

In the US, most people only speak English and a lot of states also speak Spanish, like here in California.

My second difference is the education. In Switzerland, we have to go to school for at least 11 years. So, in the State where I live, we have 6 years of primary school, 3 years of secondary school and then we can choose between four different schools to continue or you can do an apprenticeship for 3-4 years. A lot of people don’t continue school and do an apprenticeship and don’t go to college and university. The universities in Switzerland are not as expensive as in the US.

I don’t know a lot about the American schooling system, but it’s quite different in Switzerland and I’m sure that I don’t have to get into the details, but they have k-12 school (High School), followed by college and University.

The third biggest difference is the store opening time. In Switzerland, the opening hours are not very long, from Monday to Friday usually from 8am to 6:30pm, on Saturday from 7:30am to 5pm and on Sunday, most of the stores are closed. Restaurants usually have a resting day and stop their kitchen service at 10:pm.

Howsoever, in the US, I was surprised to see that some of the shops are open 24 hours and this all the week ! This is great if you need something in a hurry or just want to do your shopping when nobody is around ! But personally, I couldn’t work with their working hours…


Despite these differences, both countries are amazing and I’m really happy that I had this opportunity to visit the United States I miss my home country, but I had an amazing time here in the United States !

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Basel, Switzerland

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Zurich, Switzerland

Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States

Vintage clothes

Bernou Hazelhoff Roelfzema, The Netherlands

Why would you want to buy vintage clothes or recycle your clothes? Here are some good reasons why.

  1. Vintage clothes prevents the creating of more greenhouse gas
  2. It conserves energy
  3. It generates new materials
  4. It is easy!
  5. It is fashionable

1) Clothes are mostly made of organic material, meaning that it originates from natural sources and that it is biodegradable, but rubbish heaps are not giving the clothes enough oxygen to let the organic material break down. It will develop to anaerobic digestion. The progress will result in dangerous greenhouse gases, in a dump. The gases will go into the atmosphere, which will lead to the globing warming. When you recycle 100 million pounds of clothes it has an effect on the environment equivalent to removing 26,000-35,000 cars from the road.

2) The process of making clothes takes a lot of energy. Every item goes through  manufacturing process that uses a lot of electricity and water.

3) Clothes that aren’t suitable for reuse should still be recycled! Even if they are torn or stained, old clothes can be turned into wiping rags, insulation, paper, yarn, and more. It costs less to make these items from recycled textiles than virgin materials, saving both money and resources.

4) Even though you can’t put your clothes into your curbside-recycling bin, recycling them has never been easier. There are thousands of bins across the states, conveniently located by the places you frequent the most like schools, grocery stores, and strip malls so you don’t have to go out of your way to help the environment.



5) Vintage or second-hand clothes are also stylish. If you match some new and old clothes, or over sized clothes with skinny clothes you will have a cute outfit. You can just go crazy with it. It is all up to you. You will also help the environment.biikiissshhh

I often go to thriftshops to buy second hand clothes because of the reasons above this. In my home country we have a few stores but also here in Santa Barbara you have a few nice ones. Some clothes do look really bad, but you need to just keep looking and you will find something.

You Have To Risk It Once in a While

Barbara Funicello, Italy


Have you ever thought to jump from a bridge tied to a rope? Would you leave your country and travel around the world?  How likely is that you would try food made from an animal you’ve never eaten before? If you would do any of these things, it means that you are and adventurous risk-taker and you seek excitement.

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Anyway, not everybody here would be ready to venture into new experiences, especially the dangerous ones. In fact, people usually play it safe: they prefer to live in their routine, stay in their comfort zone and they don’t want to deal with something that is not familiar for them. Apparently, this attitude reduces the possibilities of negative consequences, but is it really good for us, or does it have some bad aspects?

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Jean-Paul Sartre says that “to know what life is worth, you have to risk it once in a while“. He means that if we always avoid risks, our lives would become boring and monotonous. It may be harming our chances to improve and enrich ourselves. For this reason, sometimes it’s important to take a risk and try to exceed our limits little by little.


Furthermore, many studies demonstrated that taking risks helps people to develop skills like creativity, confidence, problem-solving, perseverance. Instead, dull people can’t be versatile, able to adapt to different situations and face problems to find good solutions.

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On the other hand, it’s better not to do dangerous activities to excess for our health and security. Everyone should strike a reasonable balance appreciating the importance of risk-taking in a sensible way, just to spice our lives up a little bit and make them more interesting.Risk-vs-Safe

In my life, I always try everything new because every experience teaches me something and helps me to grow up. My last adventure was to decide to come here, in Santa Barbara, far from my country, from my family and my friends. It was a hard decision since I came here alone, but I put fear aside. I’m going to leave this Sunday and I can definitely say that it was great: I met new friends from all over the world, I learned a lot about myself and I saw beautiful places. I simply recommend to everyone to dive into life.

It’s Fiesta Time

Patrycja Iwaniuk, The Netherlands

The Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara is a week of celebrating the traditions, history, heritage, and culture that has been in Santa Barbara for hundreds of years. Since the beginning of the week, the first preparations can be seen. Music can be heard on every corner of the street. The first Fiesta eggs can be bought and smashed to color the streets with colorful confetti and even the people dress up in beautiful and traditional costumes. They proudly walk through State Street giving it wonderful ambiance.

Also, here at the EF school and in the Santa Catalina residence the feeling of Fiesta is in the air. More and more decorations are being hung up in the school and even some teachers can be seen wearing some great colorful outfits. Wednesday was Tamale Day and some students had the opportunity to make some beautiful Fiesta eggs, which are by the way strictly forbidden to use in the residence. Luckily for us, there is enough space outside to break these eggs and throw some confetti on our friends. As Wednesday night was the grand opening at the Mission, Thursday morning the decorations were even greater. In the afternoon students were welcome to enjoy some chips with salsa and delicious churros. To add to that, in what way can you end the day better than having people break a piñata in the middle of the schoolyard?

The big days, however, were without hesitation Friday and Saturday. Before the big parade, everyone started to get out their chairs and blankets to save the best spot for the whole family. After a very long wait in the sun, the parade had begun. Dozens of beautiful horses gaited through State Street and the music played by the musicians completed the picture. It was really a new experience for me as a foreigner, since I have never seen or been to this kind of a parade. Over the past couple of days, I have really seen that the people of Santa Barbara cherish this week of joy and a lot of tourists who walk down the streets with the biggest smile when someone throws confetti to them. We can still savor the moment for a few weeks until the confetti disappears and then the first eggs can be eaten as a preparation for next year. As for me, this was my first time and hopefully not the last… VIVA LA FIESTA!

My Trip in the USA

7/26/2018, Emilie Verwee, Belgium

Before I went to EF Santa Barbara I took a trip around the USA.

I left the 5th of July from Amsterdam to San Fransisco. We started our trip there. I went to America with my own family and another family. The first day, we did a bike tour but before we start the tour we stopped at the Hard Rock Café where we were watching the footballmatch of the WK from Belgium against Brasil. Belgium won the match 😉                 so after the match we did our tour. We were driving to the Golden Gate Bridge. After that we went to Sausolito. The second day, we visited Alcatraz, it is the old prison of San Fransisco. The prison was located on an island. The third day, we walked around the city. We also went to the Coit Tower where we had a nice view of the city.

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After three days in San Francisco, we took the plane to Las Vegas. We slept in the Bellagio where we stayed two nights. We also went to a show of David Copperfield. We also walked on the strip. The strip is one of the biggest streets in Las Vegas where you have a lot of hotels and many casinos.

After two nights, we went to the airport to go rent a car. We rented a car for one week because we visited a lot of national parks. First we visited Bryce Canyon. Than we went to Lake Powell, one of my favorites. It was one of my favorites because we took a boat trip during the day between the canyons. We were swimming a lot and we did some wakeboarding ! One day later we were driving to Monument Valley, but before we went  there we visited Horseshoe Bend and Canyon X. Later we went to Monument Valley. There we went horseback riding. It was an epic experience! As the last national park we visited Grand Canyon.

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As the last part of our trip we went to Los Angeles. Our first three nights we slept in Venice Beach. Venice beach is the part of LA that I liked the most because you had a lot of variety, like beaches, the sea, a skateboard park, nice streets, … We also took a bike trip to Santa Monica and the Venice Canals. The last two nights I slept in Hollywood before my sister and I left for Santa Barbara.

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This trip will always stay with me !







minimalism picJulia Feldmann, Germany

Smalls steps to resist increasing consumption

A common misunderstanding of minimalism is that it is just all about having the smallest number of items in your life as possible. But when you take a closer look at the point of minimalism, it is actually about having items which you really appreciate and which add value to your life. Knowing that you don’t need material belongings in order to be happy and enjoy life will increase your mental health and emotional stability.

Having more and more things is not making people happier and more fulfilled. Mindless shopping has become a problematic trend.  There is a risk to developing an addiction to material items, especially clothing that creates a feeling of being weighed down by clutter. Clearly, it is human nature to always long for more and to progress in life in all aspects, like experiences, careers and relationships. On the other hand, it is essential to be grateful for everything that you already have and, in general, to be grateful for being alive. The clue is to find balance between both of these things.



A good start to becoming a minimalist is to go through your home with a box and fill it with random items you find standing around with no obvious use. Put the box out of sight for 30 days. If you don’t need to open it, or if you don’t even remember what is in the box, donate or sell it. Start in one place in your home, which could be a wardrobe drawer, your desk or underneath your bed.

Another important aspect minimalism includes gratefulness. There are a lot of things people take for granted that are actually really special to others. This goes from having food on the table to simply owning a bed and a blanket. Often people forget how many people on earth don’t have access to these things that seem so natural to others.


Apart from belongings like clothing and furniture, minimalism also affects wastfulness, especially of food. It’s a fact that there’s more than enough food to feed the planet, but still large amounts of people suffer from malnutrition. As a minimalist, people can try to become aware of how much they throw away every day. Next time you are shopping for groceries, try to only buy what you will actually eat.

Most recently, the textile industry has gone crazy on their sales prices. T-shirts for less than 5$ and jeans for less than 20$ are no rarity anymore. This development is the reason why we tend to buy more and more clothes just because of the bargain price. However, the majority of people only wear a small amount of their wardrobe on a daily basis. Some pieces even end up never being worn. On the way to becoming a minimalist, you have to think logically. What do I actually need? How can I simplify my wardrobe? Which pieces are unnecessary?

4 first little steps into your minimalism journey:

  1. Travel lightly and focus on the things that are necessary
  2. Only buy new things when your old stuff is used up or broken.
  3. Write down your plans and your achievements in a diary
  4. Try to find multifunctional items



Remember that it is not a contest or a race, but about your personal comfort. There is no specific rule to start a minimalistic lifestyle, just follow what comforts you and what feels right to you.



What to do on Holidays

Well…  finally you’re done from school! and probably you’re thinking about what to do this laaargest vacations, so here we have some ideas to make this holidays.Daley-Reading-Room_Overall-View

  • Go to a Library, could be fun cause you can find any type of readings and movies to watch, but especially our favorite is “Anna Frank diary” in the library you can go you can sit there and have a quiet time at this place, where everyone is reading and getting concentrate.
  • Ride a  bike in the metropolitan park, with this sunny days and beautiful, you can have a picnic with your best friend, your boyfriend or family and ride a bike!
  • Go to the beach, there are so many things to do at the beach!                                             – play volleyball     – join for the sunset   -kayak    -fishing  -make a castle sand  -dive
  • The movie theater is always a good idea to spend a day, eating popcorn with an ice cream! and a big soda, each Friday the add new movies to watch so be pendent to watch your favorite movie
  • Shop at the Mall– near from here are the premium outlets so for sure you’re gonna find your favorite brand. There are around 50 stores.
  • You like the animals? well, we have the city zoo where you can find all the land animals and feed them! so choose a very nice day to go with your family and friends. Or well… if you like more the aquatic animals you can go to the aquarium and see sharks, whales, turtles, and swim with dolphins!! with a spectacular show of them.
  • A time for relaxation can be an SPA day, to make your nails, repair your hair and get a new look, a foot pedicure or a body massage, anyone can be excellent for your person.
  • If you want to learn something new, I mean… a lesson about something or a course, you can learn a new language, improve school stuff or learn to cook.
  • Visit another country with a special tour and price, you can go with other students from different countries.
  • Have a beach body! everyone wants to look good for this vacations so you can do exercise at the gym and get fit!
  • Get a job for a season, something simple to do just for making money while you are having a great timeDaley-Reading-Room_Overall-View.jpg


Homeless People in America

Melinda Bilmez, Belgium

This is one of the phenomena that you can see everyday, one of the things that increase through the years, one of the things you don’t worry about when you’re walking into the street.                                                                                                                                                    Homeless people are ” Individuals without permanent housing”.  I was wondering why there are so many more homeless in America than in Europe?


The first things to understand about this phenomena is to look at the cause of homelessness in America.                                                                                                                                                  If we look at the statistics,there were 549,928 homeless people in 2016 counting 60% of male, 40% of women with 35% with children.                                                                                Since the financial crisis in 2008,the amount of homeless people has increased. Unemployment took a large space in this period, one of the reasons why people began to be homeless. Also, the decline of social services has had an impact on homelessness. That means that if you have less help you will probably decline, that’s what happened to some of them. The cost of housing had increased in this period,but not the salaries which can explain why some families had to go to the street.                                                                            We can talk about those “children” who were out of the foster care. At this age a child is not able to take care of herself as a parent would do which can lead to homelessness. The inmates who were leaving the prison can join this theory. The integration into society after years of jail isn’t easy.



The second thing to understand about homelessness is the consequences of this situation. First of all, they can have many health problems such as illness, nutritional deficiencies, sleep deprivation, drug dependency, death and more. Homelessness causes also personal problems for example, less self-esteem, changes in behaviour, and increases in the chances of entering into the criminal system. Homeless people are not alone, sometimes with children. These will have consequences and it will start before the birth of the child, such as health problems, low immunity and emotional problems. They won’t have the chance to go to school, to learn and being cultivated. Their social or academic developments will be behind the expected level. The chances that they will leave the homelessness situation is low and very difficult. People who have been living in the street for a long time do not reach the age of 62, or not that often.

 The last thing to understand is how you can help those people. They don’t deserve this. Nobody does, so we should help them. There are many things that you can do such as donate money or items to an association like “whamministries”. You can show your respect by saying hello or goodbye and you can be a volunteer  to your local homeless shelter. If you want to go further you can buy them some food or invite them to go eat with you ; they need moral support. It is also important to encourage people around you to hire homeless people so they can have salaries to get out of this horrible situation. In San Francisco, Atlanta and New York you can download an app to help directly the people by giving them blanket, gloves, coat.

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In conclusion, we can notice that homelessness as I said is a very common situation in America and it continues to grow with the years. California is the state with the biggest amount of homeless people and people don’t pay attention. You have many solutions to help them; you would be happy if someone would do the same for you.

A New “Lifestyle”

Federica Capuzzoni, Italy

The Zen philosophy is more than a simple religion, it is a life style near Buddhism. The “Zen” is a philosophy of life that helps the individual to find happiness and serenity, and it helps to remove a negative thoughts and stressful things. To understand, and to catch the real meaning of this religion, it is not necessary to become a real follower of it, but it is only necessary to open our hearts and live with broad minds.

The most important teachings of Zen are:

  1. the JOY IS NOW: Often people concentrate more about their past actions or think about a future instead to live in the moment but, it’s wrong. We need to learn to live every moment of our lives and to appreciate every thing. For the Zen’s philosophy the individual’s joy depends only on himself and how he lives in the world. So how can we be happy ? We need to remove negative thinking. We should’t get swayed by external factors and also every human has the conditions to be happy.bbb
  2.  LIVE WITH A BROAD MIND: Living with serenity without any stress means living with a broad mind. We need to always stay ready for the changes that happen in our lives, because if you have a narrow mind this prevents you from understanding what is happening in your life. If we want to see life from another view, you must forget the rules that the society requires of us. To understand better what is meaning we can use this quotes:

“In the sky there is no difference between east or west, but the people create this difference in their minds and after they start to think that it is real.”

3.     PAIN IS UNAVOIDABLE, SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL: People can only be hurt by what they decide to give importance to, so that means that is possible to avoid the suffering in vain; in fact, if you decide to emotionally break away, you can see the problem from another point of view. This teaching takes time and diligence, but it is  important for your life.ddddd

Simplicity in the Buddhist lifestyle is essential. Simplicity as way of life focuses attention on the really important thing. How can you practice simplicity?

First, you must examine your life to see what stressful habits clutter your life. Are you running around too much? Are you trying to do too many things at once? Once you ask yourself these types of questions and make an inventory of habits, then you can change to simplify your life. Simplicity is the way of life that helps us put more attention on what is happening in our lives every day, and helps us to search all the positive things that are happening every day.

After this you must realize that you have choices. Every person is the writer of his/her own life. You are 100 percent unique in your own special way. You have the right to spend your life doing the things you love to do, and experiencing things that bring you massive joy.You-have-a-choice


The trick is to enjoy your life. Don’t waste away your days, waiting for better ones ahead. You must give the possibility of every day to be the best day of your life.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

When the day is finished and you are in your bed, close your eyes and think about the whole day and search all the “happy moments” and reflect about all the good things that  happened. It helps you to appreciate your life more! 

The “Iglou”, a solution for homeless people?

Hannah Klifa, France

Image result for iglou homeless people

Geoffroy de Reynal, a french engineer, designed what we call the Iglou after caming back in France after a year in Montenegro. Seeing homeless people in nearly all french street give him the desire of a solution to rising homlessness in France, or at least an idea to help them in the every-day life.

In fact, the number of homeless people have increase in France this last few years, there are about 140,000 homeless people living in France, a 50 percent increase compared to 2001. France has ensured the right of housing since nearly ten years but in most cities, this program is satured and every day, people sleep in the freezing cold. In onlu one month, eleven homeless peolpe died in Paris in january, because of cold temperatures.

28071055_214368419125827_2987550839377380291_o.jpgHe sarted the project of the iglou, and found materials that can retain body heat : aluminum foil and polyethylene foam. He explained in an intervie`w that with this material, “the temperatures inside the igloos are about 60 degrees Fahrenheit higher than outside. And it is also waterproof”.

The ingeneer distribute more than 10 of those in Bordeaux and Paris since this winter, because of the cold wave that affected France this year. He explained that even if this is not an permenent solution, it could save life.  Iglou shelters also give homeless people a sens of security and dignity.